Wed, Oct

Hislop: FIFA's takeover of T&T football a coup.

Former national and English Premiership goalkeeper Shaka Hislop has joined the chorus of football stakeholders that have labelled FIFA's implementation of a Normalisation Committee to run the affairs of T&T football, as a Coup.

On Monday, the FIFA on its website, said it had enforced article 8.2 of the FIFA Statutes and has scrapped the less-than-four-months old TTFA duly elected administration led by William Wallace, and has replaced it with a normalization committee, a move that has left stakeholders disappointed, claims of being disrespected and embarrassed.

On Tuesday (March 17) FIFA wrote the TTFA general Secretary Ramesh Ramdhan detailing FIFA's decision based on its findings from its visit in February and placed TTFA's accountant Tyril Patrick in charge of the organisation's affairs until FIFA officials arrive to take over.

Wallace who leads the embattled football association which is said to be $50 million in debt, is now leading a fight-back of the FIFA decision, through the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS).

On Thursday, Shaka, who was interviewed via skype on CNC3 Morning Shot sports programme, said there was no other way to frame or phrase the move by FIFA other than a coup. “There is not a lot that Jack Warner and I agree on but I agree with his sentiments on what happened, why it happened and I continue to question the timing of it. T&T football, be it the Football Federation or the Football Association has been laboured with this debt ever since the Jack Warner administration, and he left power back in 2010/2011, why you wait until some 10 years to install a normalisation committee into our football, it's beyond me. And all signs point to only one thing is that both the FIFA hierarchy and the CONCACAF leadership were in favour of the David John-Williams administration. Now you have to question why that is, you can speculate but I have my feeling about it, but you don't overturn a legal, democratic election because you are disappointed that your man on the inside lost.”

Keith Look Loy, the chairman of the Technical Committee of the Wallace-led administration also told the media on Tuesday that: This is my view, is an attempted coup d'etat by FIFA to remove a democratically elected administration, an administration that was elected by the will of the football community."

John-Williams was beaten in a hotly contested race for the TTFA presidency on November 24 last year by Wallace 26 votes to 20 at the now controversial Home of Football in Balmain, Couva, to lead a total sweep for his United TTFA. Wallace and his team of Clynt Taylor, Sam Phillip and Susan Joseph-Warrick have since exposed the flaws on the Couva football home despite public approvals by the FIFA and its president, in particular, Gianni Infantino, who was among one of the dignitaries which also included T&T Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Sports Minister Shamfa Cudjoe to officially open the Home of Football in November.

Wallace and his team have also revealed the rising debt of the John-Williams-led administration (TTFA) which now stands at $50 million, and have laid out a detailed plan of how they intended to clear the existing debt and set the sport back on stable footing before a FIFA/CONCACAF Finance team two weeks ago via a uniform deal with Avec signed in February.

However, following the audit visit by a FIFA/CONCACAF team of financial experts who Ramesh Ramdhan, the TTTFA general secretary said gave the organisation the impression it was satisfied with what they saw, the move on March 17 means it was not. This coincidentally was the basis on which the normalisation committee was sent to T&T.

A disappointed Hislop said: “FIFA in their monopoly of the world's game, continue to decide who runs individual member associations, that hasn't changed and as much as the names on the doors have changed, both within the CONCACAF and the FIFA, it's business as usual, as was done some 15 or 20 years ago.”

He noted: “There is no doubt in my mind that the removal of this current administration accomplishes a couple of goals. One, it would reinstall an administration into T&T football of somebody that they feel will continue their agenda and put the agenda of CONCACAF and FIFA above that of T&T football. It also sends a very loud message across the Caribbean who continue to be reliant on FIFA funding, if you don't do what we say, or if you don't install who we want then we will take action accordingly.”

The former Newcastle United custodian who is now an ESPN Analyst said he hopes the TTFA can win against the FIFA legally, but noted that if they (TTFA) does, because of the mechanisms within FIFA football and how it is controlled, the TTFA could find red tape in their way in the future. According to Hislop, FIFA knows that many small nations cannot stand alone without their funding.

Wallace has also indicated to the media on Wednesday that the TTFA will challenge FIFA's action via the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Switzerland.

Shaka Hislop: FIFA timing very suspicious